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Barclays Travel Pack insurance and off-piste

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi, anyone got or looked into Barclays Travel Pack that includes worldwide travel insurance with winter sports?

Has a reasonable 31 days total allowance for skiing in a year. However has an off-piste limitation of...

"Accompanied by a qualified guide at all times and only in areas that the resort management consider to be safe"

I often ski stuff that isn't on a pisted run, more so in US/Canada where they typically have huge in-resort boundaries much of which is not on a groomed piste but allowable so long as it's not roped off or marked out of bounds / closed.

Question is, if it's all within resort boundary and not marked out of bounds, does this still require a guide for this insurance? !!

Though I'm already thinking of ruling it out as looking at MTB cover too and their MTB cover, while reasonable, has a big exclusion in that it can't be used for a trip specifically for MTB. Though the travel pack does also include RAC breakdown. Price for combined travel insurance and comprehensive UK/EU breakdown cover works out pretty good.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
I always take the view that in N America if inbounds you will be on a marked run of some form. Patrol certainly won't care. Some insurers are better at definitions to make this clear.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
I'd expect that they're trying to exclude things based on a European perspective.
  • The "resort management consider to be safe" is presumably some reference to the posted avalanche risk level,
    although that's never "zero", so precisely what they "consider safe" is open to interpretation.
    It could also mean: "we won't pay for excessive risk taken by those riding in closed areas".

  • "Accompanied by a qualified guide" may mean "not riding alone and riding with safety gear with which you've been trained and in possession of a usable VHF radio etc
Of course only they can know what they actually mean.... which I think makes it likely that you could challenge them in court, should they be awkward. And should you not be dead.

There are UK bank travel insurances which don't come with those "get out of jail free" clauses; perhaps it's better to support them instead?

It would be weird and expensive to hire a Guide for in-bounds riding in North America.
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 You need to Login to know who's really who.
You need to Login to know who's really who.
If it's the same as my Barclays travel insurance, it rather bizarrely includes all ski touring, even without a guide, at any altitude.

Yet requires a guide for off piste, and prohibits trekking above 4000m. When I contacted them to ask about altitude, I asked whether having a pair of touring skis strapped to my pack meant I was ok to be at any altitude solo, they answered yes.

Since I generally use touring kit for off piste, I reckon I'm covered...
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
I simply wouldn't trust this sort of branded insurance from a non-specialist. You can speculate all you want and suggest you would end up in court but realistically, who has the resources to take a big insurer to court? It all hinges on how they interpret their vague Ts&Cs and their claims handling: which may well be outsourced to an aggressive low cost outfit that is paid on the basis of stonewalling claims as much as possible. I've had personal experience of this sort of cover and I'd go for a reputable specialist every time. Ringing them up and asking for clarification can be hugely misleading - you never talk to claims handlers until you have a claim: at which point what you were told months before by a sales person is irrelevant.
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 You'll need to Register first of course.
You'll need to Register first of course.
From a lawyer's perspective, a purposive interpretation would be that 'areas the resort management consider to be safe' is firmly pointing at north American inbounds. Can you imagine asking that question of a French lift company?

The answer has to be 'yes, you need a guide to be covered off the marked piste but inbounds'.

The somewhat more practical question, is what you want running through your mind when you're waiting for the heli?
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
I have a Lloyds policy that is supplied by Axa. It's also Axa's highest grade travel insurance. It has the same duration of cover and the same off piste wording so Axa may well supply Barclays too.

For off piste skiing and boarding, I have a SCGB policy.
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@LaForet, as suggested above, the branded insurance is generally underwritten by one of the big companies like Axa. In fact an awful lot of policies are underwritten, mines with AmEx but underwritten by Inter Partner who are part of the AXA Group. My previous policy was Insure & Go which was underwritten by MAPFRE.

Edit: oh, and having dealt with AXA Health through a work policy I have nothing but good things to say about them, they were helpful and easy going throughout and I had none of the hassle I was expecting, given that it was a self inflicted injury O got from failing to ski.
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 You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
It's a recurrent problem that it's hard to know how any insurer will perform for real until you make a claim. I'd certainly avoid any that do claims management through a subsidiary or outsourced. But of course, this is hard to find out. My point wasn't so much that all 'Branded' insurance is bad but that you shouldn't assume it's better because it's a well-known brand. This was the mistake I made with my previous insurance. So as posts above have indicated, it's probably reassuring if it's underwritten by a well-know company. But what should raise concerns is where the Ts&Cs are ambiguous and need interpretation - the best policies are clear and explicit, leaving no room for argument when you claim.

This time of year sees a lot of "Well, I'd argue that ..." and "We'd see how that stands up in court ..." interpretations, but as mentioned, all you want if you're injured and frightened is to get off the piste to a medical centre. You won't be worried about the fine print of your policy. It may be a challenge to even conform to the basic requirement to inform them immediately. I've been involved in two serious accidents involving medical treatment and transfer off the piste and my only concern was for the person involved and getting them to the best treatment as soon as possible. Ringing an insurance hotline was not at the top of my list of priorities.

So on a practical note, it's worth other people in your group having details of your next of kin and insurance hotline. Then if you're injured, someone else can be delegated to contact the insurer and/or relatives. I'ts surprising how often if you ask, no one has a clue who other people are insured with or details of relatives. If you're transferring from piste to ambulance to hospital, then it's not a lot of use the contact details being back at the hotel. Worst case scenario is to be lost, separated form the group and then injured: it's worth having these details on you and with your skiing partners.
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 Ski the Net with snowHeads
Ski the Net with snowHeads
Good point, I generally let those I'm skiing with know where my insurance details are, in particular before I do something adventurous. Usually it's a case of tapping my pocket and saying "remember, insurance in this pocket"
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 snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
I too have a Barclays insurance included with the account, and have had to use it when my daughter was hit by a boarder.
I couldn't fault them at all, though a claims handler tried querying the need for a scan with the consultant who proceeded in no uncertain terms to advise them that as he was the medical professional he was going to do what he 'bloody well thought best' Very Happy Very Happy that lightened the mood somewhat, and she ended up with an entire row on a full BA flight which involved the previous occupants being bumped to Business !!
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